Cedric Merlin Powell

Wyatt Tarrant & Combs Professor of Law


Cedric Merlin Powell received his B.A. with Honors in Politics from Oberlin College in 1984 and his J.D. in 1987 from New York University School of Law, where he served as Managing Editor of The N.Y.U. Review of Law and Social Change. Prior work experiences include a judicial clerkship with the Honorable Julia Cooper Mack of the D.C. Court of Appeals from 1987-88, a one-year term as Karpatkin Fellow in the national office of the American Civil Liberties Union in New York from 1988-89, and as a litigation associate with the New York law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, from 1989-93.

He is a member of the Ohio and New York state bars, and is admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States, and the federal courts of the Second and Sixth Circuits, and the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York.

Professor Powell has written over a broad range of topics including affirmative action and Critical Race Theory, the First Amendment and hate speech, and the Fourteenth Amendment and structural inequality. All of his scholarship critiques neutrality as a means of preserving structural inequality, and advances theories of substantive equality which reject colorblindness and post-racialism as normative principles in constitutional analysis.

Professor Powell was awarded the Ferreri & Fogle Fellowship for teaching in 1998, 2000-2001 and again in 2007. He was the recipient of the Ann Oldfather fellowship in 2006, and he won the University Multicultural Teaching Award in 2000. He was recognized by the historic Chestnut Street YMCA as a 2014 Adult Black Achiever. Professor Powell was awarded the 2014 LBA Justice William E. McAnulty, Jr., Trailblazer Award, the first law professor to be so honored.